The Reds are reportedly prepared to trade both Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake, but while there’s been a good deal of speculation about the possibility of packaging Cueto and closer Aroldis Chapman, the team is not presently entertaining the notion, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. If the Reds do decide to make Chapman available — and based on Nightengale’s wording, there’s been no decision on that front yet — the preference would be to move the pair in separate transactions.
There’s less motivation for the Reds to move Chapman in the coming two weeks than there is for the team to move Cueto and Leake, as Chapman still has one season of team control remaining beyond the current campaign. Of course, that season will be an expensive one. Chapman’s earning $8.05MM in 2015 and is due a raise in arbitration this winter. Given his brilliant numbers — 32 saves, 1.69 ERA, 65-to-20 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings — it’s easy to envision his price tag soaring into the $11-12MM range. Chapman did, after all, receive a $3.05MM raise this past offseason on the strength of similar numbers in 2014.
It would seem to me that if the plan is to trade Cueto and Leake at peak value, then moving Chapman is a reasonable step as well. His value certainly goes down following the season — he’ll have less team control and a higher price tag — and the 2016 season could be one of transition for the Reds. He’d still fetch a haul this winter or even next July, but when considering the number of teams needing bullpen help and the lack of clear sellers on the market, it’s easy to see that Chapman would be among the game’s most coveted trade targets.